Describing the American South

“The cumulative product of historical and geographical incidence appears to characterize the [Southeast US] region somewhat as follows: as to resources — superabundance; as to science, skills, technology, organization — deficiency; as to general economy — waste; as to culture — richness, with immaturity and multiple handicaps; as to trends — hesitancy and relative retrogression in many aspects of culture.”

(Howard Odum, University of North Carolina Press, 1936)

The above quote is a small sliver from a 600-page study of the Southeast  Southern Regions of the United States. Rich with data and sweeping in scope, in its time it was the definitive text on the South. If Howard Odum’s eighty-year-old summary of the region were applied to our time, it would be hard to argue with very much of it.

Per capita spending on public libraries in 1929.

Per capita spending on public libraries in 1929. Click to enlarge.

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